Schiit Lyr 2

Average User Rating:
4.5/5,
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  1. Army-Firedawg
    5.0/5,
    "An amp. that will easily spoil its user"
    Pros - Incredible price/quality sound, solid build, great looks, plenty of power
    Cons - No balanced outputs, stock tubes drastically hold back what amp is capable of.



    Continuing off of my Bifrost 4490 review, the Schiit Lyr 2 is the amp. side of my upgrade from the Aune X1s. ‘So Army, you’re saying in one step you went from a $350 amp/dac combi unit to a $850 setup?’ And yup, I certainly did which goes even further into me being a prime example of this hobby being a Pandora’s box; that once you open it and have learned what true quality audio sounds like, you’ll always crave better.

    So after having this unit for right at a year now, how do I feel the Schiit Lyr 2 performs? Can it compare and hold its own against much higher end dacs? Well, please allow me to discuss with you my thoughts and finding of the Schiit audio Lyr 2 headphone tube amplifier. Also, to disclaim. My review will be with using the matched pair of NOS ‘68 Amperex 6DJ8 Orange Globe tubes I purchased. I used the stock tubes very briefly but all the forums hit the veil they have right on the head. The Lyr 2 really opened up its potential with the better tubes and it’s been so long since I’ve heard them stock I honestly couldn’t remember how it sounded.



    A little about me
    I would like to say that first and foremost I am NOT an “audiophile” but rather an audio enthusiast. I listen to music to enjoy it. Do I prefer a lossless source? Yes, of course. But I can still be very happy streaming from Pandora or even my YouTube “My Mix” playlist. I also prefer equipment that sounds the best to me personally regardless of what frequency response it has or rather or not it's “sonically accurate” and I always have and shall continue to encourage others to do the same.
    I'm a 25 year old firefighter, for the City of Concord North Carolina as well as the U.S. Army North Carolina National Guard. The cliché of wanting to do this since I was born couldn't be more present with me. I've worked hard over the last several years to earn this position and now it's time for me to work even harder to keep it.
    My interests/hobbies are power lifting, fishing and relaxing to audio products and reviewing them to help other decide on what products would work for them. Few things make me as an audio enthusiast/review feel more accomplished than when someone tells me that I helped them find the type of sound they've always been looking for.
    Now, the sound signature I personally favor is a relaxing, warm and sensual sound that just drifts me away in the emotional experience of the music being performed. Yes, accuracy is still important but I will happily sacrifice some of that if I'm presented with a clean, warm sound that can wisp me away into an experience that makes me yearn for more.
    My ideal signature are that of respectably forward mids and upper bass range with the bass being controlled but with some slight decay. I like my treble to have nice extension and detail reveal with a smooth roll off up top as to not become harsh in the least. Examples of products that have given me chills and keep giving me the yearning for more feels are the (in no particular order) Bowers & Wilkins P7, Oppo PM-1/2, Empire Ears Hermes VI & Zeus XIV, Audeze LCD-XC, Meze Headphones 99 Classics.
    Equipment used at least some point during the review
    -Headphone
    -Audio-Technica
    -ATH-W5000
    -ATH-W1000X
    -Sennheiser HD650
    -Empire Ears Hermes VI
    -Meze 99 Classics
    -Bowers & Wilkins P7
    -Various other models over my year with the product that I just can’t recall, but please see my YouTube channel for headphones that I’ve used with the Lyr 2.
    -D.A.C.
    -PS Audio DirectLink 3
    -w/ Cullen Stage IV mod.
    -SPL Audio Phonitor e
    -Schiit Bifrost 4490
    -Source
    -LG V20
    -HP 15634 Laptop
    -Sony Playstation 4
    -Luxury & Precision L3
    -Misc. Equipment
    -Source cleaner
    -iFi Nano iUSB3.0
    -Video Game
    -Destiny
    -Final Fantasy XV

    Disclaimer
    I am by no means sponsored by this company or any of its affiliates. I purchased this product with my own money to be used for my personal reasons.
    The following is my take on the product being reviewed. It is to be taken “with a grain of salt” per say and as I always tell people, it is YOUR opinion that matters. So regardless of my take or view on said product, I highly recommend you listen to it yourself and gauge your own opinion.

    The Opening Experience
    Why I feel so strongly about the initial unboxing experience
    Please allow me to explain why I feel so strongly about the initial unboxing experience with a product. Maybe it’s due to my southern roots in the hills of eastern Kentucky, but I’ve always been raised under the pretense of when you introduce yourself to someone for the first time you present yourself with confidence, class, character, pride, and competence. You greet the other person with a true warm smile, eye contact and a firm handshake. Anything less or short implies to other person that you either don’t care about them, are too full of yourself, too busy to be bothered by the likes of them, or worse, just generally disrespectful.
    As a consumer, I take this same belief to when I open a new product. Why? Because think about it this way. How else can a company introduce themselves to their customers? How do they present their products? Are they packaged with pride and presented in such a way that makes the listener eager to listen to them? Or maybe they’re just wrapped up and placed in an available space. How about the box itself? Is it bogged down with jargon that says look at this, look what I can do. I’m better than anything on the market and here’s why read this and check out that. Or, is the package clean, simplistic and classy? As if saying to the customer ‘Good day, pleasure to meet your acquaintance. Please give me a listen and allow me to show you what I can do and allow my actions to speak louder than my words.’
    This is why I feel so strongly about the initial presentation of a product, and I feel it’s truly a shame more people don’t. But with all that aside, let’s discuss how this products introduced itself shall we?

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    Disclaimer: The Lyr 2 DOES NOT come with tubes already in the socket. That was an oversight on my part to forget to take them out.

    Schiit is very consistent with how they package and deliver their products. Each has the same color/design scheme with the only difference between products being the size of the boxes for the given frame style, i.e. magni/modi/vali, bifrost/lyr2/jotunheim, gungnir2/mjolnir, ragnarok/yggdrasil. In addition the framework to the units themselves are very similar with only the input/output ports being different (same examples as before). This is one of the ways that Schiit saves money on building their products, which in turn coincides with cheaper yet higher quality products for us as consumers. But enough of the generality, I should probably talk about the Lyr 2 specifically.
    The Lyr 2 arrives in a plain white cardboard box that differs it by having the Schiit logo stamped on the sides along with the given product you purchased written in a blocked, well, box; For example the Lyr 2 115V with just the tubes is written as “L I 115 I S” As you open the box you’re greeted by, IMO, a very nice presentation and care given to a product to ensure it arrives safely and in one piece. Each side of the unit is encased in a very firm foam material that, from appearance (I never tested the durability myself), seems to be able to handle any reasonable falls or hits; also, right on top is the user/instruction manual. Finally the product itself is covered with a plastic sleeve to prevent dust from entering the unit, which even it is sealed by a Schiit quality approved sticker. In a small, separate box (that’s actually on top of the unit), you’ve the pair of 6BZ7 tubes (and/or the solid state LISST) which are very protected in a nice, yet softer type of foam. Lastly, on the bottom of the package, you’ve the power cable.
    Lastly, on the bottom of the package, you’ve the power cable.
    As I said in my Bifrost 4490 review, Schiit does a fantastic job at packaging their products and keeping them safe until they arrive at their customer's doorstep. They then present their product so that us as enthusiasts are genuinely excited to hook it up and hear what ti can really do. This is exactly the kind if thing I look for in a “handshake” given by a company in their unboxing experience. And finally, this is only a personal thing and doesn’t effect the review, rather for or against, but Schiit is an American based company that also builds their products here; and I personally really respect that. .


    Construction

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    It seems like I’m comparing the Lyr 2 and Bifrost a lot but seeing as how popular and well build the Bifrost is that’s certainly not a bad thing. The Lyr 2 is build from a U shaped aluminum frame with thinner metal sides and bad which works as head blocks to protect both the Lyr 2 and whatever is around it (it can get quite toasty). The front of the unit, from left to right, has the Schiit Lyr 2 logo, very nice and buttery volume knob, and ¼” headphone jack. The back of the unit, from left to right, has the rca inputs, rca outputs, gain switch, power switch, and power input. The top of the unit is where the business is, for the top is where the 2 tube ports are which in and of itself is wrapped by a vented aluminum same as what’s on the sides and back. This does a great job at keeping the unit and tubes as cool as reasonably possible, helping the longevity of the unit and tubes alike.

    There’s a good reason (well, most of the time) that a company becomes and stays popular, and Schiit does it for all the right reasons. They take pride in their appearance, they deliver their products with care, and also build them to last for many, many years to come.



    Features

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    Though most amps. are pretty straight forward with the Schiit Lyr 2, in all honesty, not being much different, it does have some very important things build into the unit that, to me, set it apart from the rest. Available tube sets are 6BZ7, 6DJ8, 6922, ECC88, 2492 just to list a few but a GREAT reference for you is this Lyr 2 thread. This, and the Mjolnir 2, have the ability to be turned completely solid state by means of Schiit’s linear, integrated solid-state tube or LISST. Then, and this reason played a very large part in my purchase, there’s the ability for this amp. to be played with not only high power orthodynamics or even annoyingly picky headphones like the HD800 but they can also play well with sensitive c/iems such as my personal Empire Ears Hermes VI. That flexibility is EXTREMELY important to me for I don’t have the funds nor interest to buy multiple products to satisfy multiple needs, I need an amp. with the ability to do it all and do it all very well and during my year with the Schiit Lyr 2, it most certainly has.

    Specifications (copied straight from the Schiit website)

    Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, -0.1db, 2Hz-500KHz, -3dB

    Maximum Power, 32 ohms: 6.0W RMS per channel

    Maximum Power, 50 ohms: 4.0W RMS per channel

    Maximum Power, 300 ohms: 660mW RMS per channel

    Maximum Power, 600 ohms: 330mW RMS per channel

    THD: < 0.01%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 1V RMS, gain = 8 mode (worst case, stock tubes)

    IMD: < 0.01%, CCIF at 1V RMS, gain = 8 mode (worst case, stock tubes)

    SNR: > 98db, unweighted, referenced to 1V RMS, in gain = 1 mode

    Crosstalk: < -65dB, 20 Hz-20KHz

    Output Impedance: 0.7 ohms (high gain), 0.3 ohms (low gain)

    Gain: 7 (16.9db) or 1 (0 db), via rear switch

    Topology: Dynamically Adaptive Class A/AB, noninverting, hybrid tube/MOSFET, single voltage gain stage, DC-coupled input and output

    Protection: standard muting relay for delayed turn-on and fast turn-off

    Power Supply: Two internal power transformers, five internal regulated rails, with over 30,000uf of filter capacitance

    Power Consumption: 30W

    Size: 9 x 6 x 2.25”

    Weight: 6 lbs

    All measurements made on a Stanford Research SR1+ Audio Analyzer



    Sound

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    Alas, what the main event of this entire review; how the legendary Schiit Lyr 2 sounds (please see my above disclaimer about the tubes I’m using). I’ve found that I’m most certainly a tube sound lover and definitely prefer it’s warm inviting distortion over that of the solid state accuracy (kinda counter intuitive seeing the amp. I’ve just recently purchased but oh well). And the Lyr 2 absolutely envelops you in its sound. The Lyr 2 pairs incredibly well with almost any headphone I’ve put through it from the HD650’s and 800’s, to Audeze LCD 2 to my custom Empire Ears Hermes VI. Each sounded so at home and really, imo, brought out close to, if not the, best out of them. The only headphone I’ve tried that didn’t pair too well with the Lyr 2 is the Audio-Technica W-5000, can’t put my finger on it but they just don’t sound that good on it.

    My favorite thing about the Lyr 2’s sound it its control has over the drivers. The bass becomes very impactful and more controlled than with the other amps I’ve tried in this price range. The mids gain more body to them and more forward, not by much but enough to be noticed. I also feel that the amp. can take much better advantage of the source it’s receiving (like that of the Bifrost [whatever model you’re using]) and express all the detail that the dac is creating. The Lyr 2, when I listen to it, breaths such realism into the headphones that they’re powering that other amps costing MUCH more came nowhere near. An example I’ll compare it to is the SPL Audio Phonitor e. This amp/dac. costs roughly $1,800 and make no mistake it did sound great but, to my ears, it just couldn’t do what the Lyr 2 does with making music sound alive and musical.

    I really and truly enjoyed my time I had with the Lyr 2 and I will miss it very dearly for its performance per its price really can’t be outdone (or at least I’ve yet to see anything compare). Though I’m not personally into tube rolling, for I did days of research to find what tube fits the sound I personally enjoy, the Lyr 2 can be adapted with a smorgasbord of different style tubes so the consumer may fine tune the sound to fit whatever sound they particularly are looking for. Schiit, to me, allowed the Lyr 2 to be one of the best gateway products to get people into the high end market. At full retail price of $449 this is a respectably affordable amp. that as mentioned earlier, performs MUCH higher than its price would let on. Even those who don’t use overly difficult products to drive, in fact quite the opposite, can be at rest with the Lyr 2 (so long as it’s in LOW gain mode). The Lyr 2 presents a, for the most part, black background that really plays well with my customs. I can’t really fault the Lyr 2 that much because DAP’s that cost MORE that are even made and claim to be silent have issues with the Empire Ears line.


    Conclusion

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    To so sum up my thoughts on the Schiit Lyr 2. I am a firm believer that anyone, regardless of their setup, will benefit from the Schiit stack that is the Lyr 2 and Bifrost (whatever model). They pair so well together and price/quality are absolutely unmatched. I’ve since parted ways with both units but it took an amp and dac costing roughly $4,000 to make me part ways with them. Schiit proudly encourages you to compare their products to others costing multiples more and it’s easy to see why after owning them. They perform.




    Also, make sure to check out my unboxing and review videos. They’re pretty awesome AND you getta put a face to the Army-Firedawg name. If this review helped you out at all please hit that thumbs up button for it really helps me out a lot. Till next time my friends, stay safe.
  2. Aornic
    4.0/5,
    "A powerful introduction to the world of tubes"
    Pros - Punchy, dynamic, fast, a good introductory amp to the world of tube rolling, lots of power
    Cons - Stock tubes not ideal, one-speed only (can only alter sound, not presentation)

    Specifications


    Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, -0.1db, 2Hz-500KHz, -3dB

    Maximum Power, 32 ohms: 6.0W RMS per channel

    Maximum Power, 50 ohms: 4.0W RMS per channel

    Maximum Power, 300 ohms: 660mW RMS per channel

    Maximum Power, 600 ohms: 330mW RMS per channel

    THD: < 0.01%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 1V RMS, gain = 8 mode (worst case, stock tubes)

    IMD: < 0.01%, CCIF at 1V RMS, gain = 8 mode (worst case, stock tubes)

    SNR: > 98db, unweighted, referenced to 1V RMS, in gain = 1 mode

    Crosstalk: < -65dB, 20 Hz-20KHz

    Output Impedance: 0.7 ohms (high gain), 0.3 ohms (low gain)

    Gain: 7 (16.9db) or 1 (0 db), via rear switch

    Topology: Dynamically Adaptive Class A/AB, noninverting, hybrid tube/MOSFET, single voltage gain stage, DC-coupled input and output

    Protection: standard muting relay for delayed turn-on and fast turn-off

    Power Supply: Two internal power transformers, five internal regulated rails, with over 30,000uf of filter capacitance

    Power Consumption: 30W

    Size: 9 x 6 x 2.25”

    Weight: 6 lbs

    All measurements made on a Stanford Research SR1+ Audio Analyzer

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    Build Quality & Features

    Talking about Schiit’s build quality in 2017 seems a bit redundant. As always, they favour their minimalist aesthetics coupled with a tough metal chassis. The volume pot, which is not utilising a stepped attenuator, feels solid to the touch and…turns well? My unit, which was purchased used from a gentleman here in the UK, has socket savers installed – which is handy due to how much I’ve swapped tubes on this thing.

    Yes, it runs quite hot – depending on which tubes you use. Hotter than the Asgard 2, which I once thought was quite toasty. This is part of the tube experience however, so I’m used to it. That being said, the LISST solid-state tubes make the amp run considerably cooler.

    The edges on this particular unit are quite sharp, and I’m not sure how that is. The Valhalla 2 had smoother-but-still-defined sides. I feel like this would actually cut if it slips in your hand, and I took extra precaution when filming the video component of this review.

    Also standard Schiit fare, the on/off and gain switched are located in the back of the chassis. Also, the LED is white, and its brightness doesn’t bother me so much – although I know some people who have especially bought material to dim it. On the topic of lights, a large amount of the orange glow that you’ll see comes from little lights on the board itself, inside the chassis, and not from the usage of tubes. I would guess that Schiit did this to provide a more picturesque tube glow to their consumers, as the type of tubes used in this amplifier are not known to glow boldly and brightly.

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    Sound

    The sound of the Lyr 2 can be summed up as punchy, dynamic and lean. With the stock tubes, it does not venture into stereotypical warm and “gooey” territory – often expected when discussing tube amplifiers. It shares this characteristic with the only OTL tube amplifier in Schiit’s range, the Valhalla 2. Both amps, with stock tubes, are lean and bright at times.

    However, the Valhalla 2 has advantages in its wider staging and more laid back sound – along with its more natural detail presentation. The Lyr 2, however, is substantially more rambunctious in approach. It has narrower staging and a more boxed-in sound overall, with detail retrieval being a bit muted in stock form (again, compared to the Valhalla 2) in order to maintain its own sound signature. That sound signature is one that is very much like a solid-state amplifier – one that is very fast (almost staggeringly so compared to more neutral solid-state amplifiers like the Audio-GD NFB-28) and punchy in approach.

    The punchiness in the bass reproduction of the Lyr 2 is possibly one of the first aspects you will notice. No matter what tubes I swapped onto it (more on that later), this characteristic did not dwindle in the slightest – definitely due do the hybrid design and solid-state stage. This can prove to be too frantic for some people, however, as you can’t quite swap out its ability to be this way. For example, my Feliks Audio Elise OTL tube amplifier has two slots for power tubes and two for driver tubes, and both can be rolled with a tube pairing to a configuration that you desire. Need more punchiness and dynamics? Use Mullard 6080 power tubes, and so on.

    The Lyr 2 only has the ability to have its driver tubes swapped out, and thus only gives the illusion of being truly roll-able. I’m not discounting the differences, there are several and I’ll go through some below, but whatever changes that are made are tacked onto how the amp sounds on its own – and it will always be fast, punchy and dynamic.

    I don’t find the stock 6BZ7 tubes very impressive, they are both thin in sound and rather hazy compared to other offerings. There’s also a certain uncleanliness to the treble and upper midrange that I can’t shake, especially when using the Focal Utopia. There’s also a lack of depth, particularly with percussion instruments like drums – toms sound thin and lack the body of a live sound. The treble is also a bit etched and unnaturally hard, and not quite like someone would expect from tubes – stereotypical or otherwise.

    I would recommend the Lyr 2 if you plan on getting started in the tube-rolling side of this hobby, but on a budget and without consideration for full customisability that comes with power tubes/rectifiers along with driver tubes. I do recommend that you swap out the stock tubes however, and fortunately I’ve had the chance to compare a few sets.

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    Driver Tube Pairings

    Schiit LISST Tubes

    These are the only alternatives that Schiit themselves sell. The LISST tubes, which can be used on either the Lyr 2 or the Mjolnir 2, are designed to turn the hybrid tube amps into fully solid-state offerings. What the LISST tubes do, however, to the Lyr 2’s sound is solve a problem while introducing others.

    First and foremost, this is the full realization of the Lyr 2’s design – fast, punchy and dynamic. While the stock tubes could feel a bit anaemic in bass depth, texture and amount at times - the LISST tubes introduce a hefty thump to the low end of the amp. The problem is that this can overwhelm some headphones that benefit from a more controlled bass experience, something that the Lyr 2 manages to do with any of the actual tube pairings that I have. With the Utopia, it introduces more mid-bass, but with bassier headphones (like the ZMF Eikon and ZMF Atticus) – it becomes a bit ridiculous in how much it drowns out everything else.

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    The midrange also feels a bit hollow and lifeless, compared to tube offerings on the Lyr 2 (including stock). It almost sounds recessed compared to how the amp usually sounds, leading me to believe that the LISST might as well be called a V-shaped solid-state option for the amp.

    The speed of the LISST tubes can’t be denied however, and double kick drum patterns in metal music will especially show how relentless they can be. I’m just left wondering why this would be a strong enough reason to buy the Lyr 2 over another solid-state amplifier. I suppose it runs a bit cooler than using tubes, if that’s a consideration for you.

    So far, it will definitely seem that I am pretty down on the Lyr 2. Not so. If anything, I just find the problems with the Schiit-offered tubes to counter the need of having a tube/hybrid amplifier. Thankfully, this can be rectified at some cost.

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    Tesla 1960s OEM ECC88 6DJ8 Rožnov – Czech

    Put on your party hats because this tube set emphasizes bass in a bigger way than the LISST tubes, but does not lose much texture and actually extends further. The 1960s Teslas have a mellow sound overall, but do not sound recessed in the midrange like the LISST. With a slightly warm tilt, the midrange also contrasts to the stock 6BZ7 tubes. The actual cleanliness of the midrange is superior to the stock tubes but there is a definite masking of some details.

    The bass, however, is one to be heard. On the ZMF headphones, it simply slams hard and does so in a manner that doesn’t drown out the midrange – again, like the LISST does. Keeping up with the rest of the LISST options, it’s also quite fast but I’ll admit that it decays a tad slower than all my examples today. The bass texture is also quite well done, and not as one-note as the LISST. The treble is quite soft, but present and not too constricted.

    As these are quite inexpensive, at $30 a matched pair, I would recommend them to anyone who wants a more bass-focused sound that does not sacrifice midrange at the altar. My criticism of this pairing for the Lyr 2 is that it does mask micro-detail a fair amount, which is especially noticeable on the Focal Utopia. As far as fun options go, I’d take this over the LISST (if that wasn’t already obvious).

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    Genalex E88CC/6922 Gold Lions

    This, in my opinion, is a must have tube set if you own the Lyr 2 – and, until recently, was my favourite pairing for the amp. The Gold Lions have a stronger tilt towards warmth than the 1960s Teslas, but lack any of the audible distortion that was masking detail while using the Czech tubes.

    The Gold Lions remind me a bit of the Cavalli Liquid Carbon that I used to have, but benefit from the Lyr’s fast sound quite heavily – meaning that it’s never sluggish with any of my headphones. This honestly makes me wonder how it would be on another amplifier, one that doesn’t share the Lyr’s qualities quite so much – as it honestly sounds like a hybrid itself, of a laid back sound coupled with speed and decent dynamics.

    The midrange has a very nice amount of body to it, and is quite layered in its approach to sound. Vocals are especially enjoyable to listen to with the Gold Lions. Bass does not extend as far as with the 1960s Teslas, but has great texture, body and control regardless. The treble is also far cleaner than either stock tubes or the Teslas – and isn’t etched as the LISST either.

    These tubes bring the Lyr 2 closest, in my opinion, to the stereotypical “warm and gooey” tube sound that people talk about. What I commend them for is the ability to do this without losing out on detail retrieval, treble clarity or presence. The lack of audible distortion also adds to its flavour as a top pick in Lyr 2 tube-rolling.

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    Tesla E88CC 1970s Military Cross Swords – Gold Pin Rožnov – 198 - Czech

    This tube set’s main focus is in the midrange. However, I would not classify it the cleanest experience out there. It’s less grating than the stock tubes, however, due to its less harsh treble. Bass extension lags behind the 1960s Teslas and midrange body and warmth fall behind the Gold Lions – making this my least used aftermarket tube. For what it’s worth, it does have a slightly wider stage than the other tubes I’ve described thus far.

    The sound is also quite “tubey” and does not share any of the hardness of the stock or LISST tubes. Where those are both dry, this is a wetter listening experience that has a certain texture that I could describe as slightly sandpapery in the midrange. There is detail retrieval, but it is rough and uneven and distorted guitars can sound quite unpolished in presentation. I wouldn’t call it a smooth experience, but I found myself quite liking it with classic rock genres – it almost multiplies Led Zeppelin’s sound by itself in some ways.

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    6N23P-EV / 6H23P-EB NOS/Russia

    I’ll just start this assessment off by saying that these are, by a sizable margin, the priciest of the aftermarket tubes on this list. You can pick some up for about the same price as a pair of LISST tubes, and this is definitely more to my liking than the solid-state option. In fact, this is my favourite pairing for the Lyr 2 overall.

    This is because of the very impressive amount of detail retrieval, air and overall cleanliness that this tube pairing has. The midrange is not thick or warm, but has a silkiness to it that lets vocal harmonies and instrumentation remain effortless and natural in presentation – all coupled with the Lyr’s inherent speed. The bass does take a slight backseat in volume, but is still controlled and this is a small trade-off for what it provides overall.

    One reason, I’ve noticed, that some folk prefer tubes is because the very best options will provide more nuance to a recording. In this digital age, the average consumer is far removed from any imperfections that might have come about in, say, a vinyl album. For the general population, the MP3 format has squashed down music into a space-saving experience that chops off information to do so. Sure, we can use lossless formats and have our chosen DACs decipher the information in a manner we appreciate, but the end result is too clean and by-the-numbers for tube aficionados.

    After getting this tube set, I realized that there was truth in what I’ve seen others say – that the best tubes are not necessarily warm or “gooey”, but rather as clean as a solid-state amp with the added delicate timbre and nuance that comes from a tube option. Indeed, that is the case here – with everything from cleanly picked guitars to pianos feeling better exposed and realistic. There is no added bloom, but there is also no etched treble. Any sense of artificial sound is gone, with the only remnants being the solid-state (punchy, dynamic etc. etc.) stage of the Lyr 2 itself – making me wonder how this tube set would sound in other amps.

    Highly recommended if you are looking to pick up a Lyr 2.

    Amping

    This is the most powerful SE-only amplifier that I have reviewed to date in terms of pure wattage. I have no doubts that this will drive planars (I don’t have any on hand currently however) to their potential – save for the Hifiman Susvara or HE-6.

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    Conclusion

    When I reviewed the iFi Pro iCan, I criticized just how little change there was between the solid-state, tube and tube+ modes. When I reviewed the Schiit Valhalla 2, I did not do any tube rolling on it and focused on its stock sound. This is my first experience with rolling, and I honestly believe that it’s a safe and simple one for a newcomer to tubes.

    That being said, it’s a bit difficult to recommend the Lyr 2 if you only plan on using the stock 6BZ7 tubes, or even the LISST upgrades. I would encourage you to explore, there are still so many options that I have not heard personally – such as the E88CC SIEMENS Gold-Pins (made in Germany) that I was recommended a few times during my time with this amplifier. I can’t review every pairing out there, but I hope I made it clear that I consider the Russian 6H23P and the Genalex Gold Lions my favourite of the bunch – and the best performers overall.

    Unless you insist on the driving power, and only have the budget for the single-ended option and care not for balanced (Schiit Mjolnir 2 exists for that), I think the Lyr 2 is an admirable stepping stone from a background with solid-state amplifiers and into the world of actual tubes – a scary but very interesting place that can hurt your wallet. Alternatively, if you want a solid state amplifier with some wiggle room in sound-sculpting (and want to avoid going off the deep end of tube amplifiers), then this is a nice option for your purposes as well.

    [​IMG]
    Six Sonatas and trellus like this.
  3. bpandbass
    4.5/5,
    "An excellent mid level amp for someone with a slew of different headphones to amplify"
    Pros - size and build, fast, dynamic sound; has tons of power, works great with planars and dynamics alike
    Cons - not-very-good-sounding stock tubes, can be aggressive on high gain, gets hot, you will need an equally good DAC, not very lush sounding
    Before the Lyr 2 I owned two hybrid headphone amplifiers: the Hifiman EF2A, and the Maverick Audio A1. What both those entry level amplifiers lacked was the power and sonic dynamics to drive my mid-level headphones to their true potential. They were either too aggressive, or too soft and lush sounding. But due to my variety of both high impedance and low impedance headphones, I wanted to stick to hybrid amplifiers, and simply move up the ladder. I was gifted a Schiit Audio Lyr 2 in December, after deciding between it and the Garage1217 Project Ember. The enclosed case of the Lyr 2 was what won me over. 
     
     
    Build quality: 
     
    The Lyr 2 uses a brushed aluminum body with recessed slots for the two tubes. It's made by Schiit Audio in California, and comes with a 5 year warranty. As I mentioned, it is a hybrid amplifier, combining both solid state transistors and vacuum tubes. Changes from the Lyr 2 include a gain selector switch, and some sonic changes to give it a more refined sound. The amplifier doesn't feel as finely crafted as say, a Woo Audio amplifier, but also isn't as expensive. The high/low gain selector and power switches are both located on the back of the unit, as are the unbalanced RCA input and preamplifier jacks. I haven't used the Lyr 2 with self-powered speakers, so I cannot comment about its ability as a preamp. But according to Schiit, the Lyr 2 isn't meant to be used as a speaker amplifier, only as a preamplifier to powered speakers. The gain knob is anodized aluminum finished, and has a smooth turning actuation. No steps to be found. It's not very gain-happy so even in high gain it will require you to turn it past 10 o'clock when used with full size power-hungry headphones. This doesn't mean the amp is struggling to output power, it just means that the gain knob isn't extremely sensitive. 
     
     
    Heat: 
     
    One warning I must give is that the Lyr 2 get bloody hot. Enough to almost burn your fingers. It also tends to heat up the volume knob. So I suggest not running the Lyr 2 if your room is in the heat of summer, or if you don't need a space heater. Make sure to give the Lyr 2 plenty of ventilation and keep dust out of it. 
     
     
    Tubes:
     
    I was using the stock tubes shipped with the Lyr 2, which are a pair of Canadian 6BZ7s. They are acceptable stock tubes, but I personally don't like them very much. I find them to be too finicky. When they haven't been fully burned in, they tend to suck all the bass out of your headphones and sound rather brittle and bright at times. Once you get past their long burn in time, they are fairly neutral tubes with good extension in the treble, and decent bass. But they take an unnecessarily long time to heat up when turned on from cold. They take about 20-30 minutes before the midrange comes forward and the bass takes impact. Another downside I have with them is that they tend to be microphonic. I find that if they are on for a while, they start to hum, and the humming transmits through lower ohm headphones at high gain. At low gain I don't hear humming. Speaking of gain, the stock tubes are too aggressive sounding with most headphones on high gain. I find that they sound their smoothest on low gain with lower ohm headphones.
     
    Fortunately the Lyr 2 uses 6DJ8 (also called the ECC88 and 6922 in Europe, 6N23P in Russia, and 6N11 in China) model tubes, which although not the cheapest in entry price (6AK5s would probably take the medal for that), there are lots of good sounding pairs for sale on eBay with different sound signatures. Ranging from the stock tubes (not recommended) to mid range models such as Amperex, Electro-Harmonix, Voshkod and Mullard tubes; all the way up to 200 dollars for a matched pair of Siemens. So there will surely be a tube right for you.
     
    On recommendation from another Head-Fier with a Lyr 2, I recently purchased a pair of vintage 1964 General Electric Red Labels for 50 dollars, and they are a fantastically sweet sounding pair. With lots of dynamics and fullness to the midrange, a detailed treble that still manages to never be harsh, and a full sounding upper bass and mid bass that sounds wonders on the Sennheiser HD650s without being bloated or too full. It's absolutely the perfect sounding tube to me. Its tonality is supremely realistic. But if you want the Lyr 2 to be more airy and faster sounding, an Amperex Orange Globe or Bugle Boy or Electro-Harmonix should be for you. For a dark and solid sound a good pair of Voshkod Rockets should also be for you. And for those of you who have a Woo Audio WA3, which also uses two 6DJ8 tubes, the GE Red Labels if you can find a matched pair like I was lucky to should be a great tube to roll on the WA3, as it is already a smoother sounding amp than the Lyr 2. 
     
     
    Now, onto the sound. Overall, I would consider the Lyr 2 to be fast, dynamic, somewhat dry but with some warmth in the bass and mids depending on which tubes you run it on. Here are my impressions with the stock tubes used.
     
     
    Treble: The Lyr 2 has that characteristic dynamic, extended and forward yet smooth treble characteristic of Schiit Audio amplifiers. It's a bit north of neutral, with enough energy to bring out the dynamics of darker headphones, but has the refinement to not sound overly aggressive with somewhat brighter headphones. On high gain it becomes rather shouty or metallic, but this may be just due to the tubes, or the DAC. It's not rolled off like a Woo Audio WA6, but also not as bright as a first generation Schiit Valhalla. 
     
    Mids: The mids are where the Lyr 2 has more of the characteristic hybrid sound of lying somewhere between dry and fast like a solid state, and being tubey or warm sounding like an all-tube amp. It's neither cold nor flush. The mids have a good fill-in, if slightly mechanical sounding compared to the treble and bass. Nonetheless, the Lyr 2 is where you will start to notice an improvement from entry level amplifiers. It has a revealing and dynamic nature that you don't hear in entry level models. On high gain, the upper mids and lower treble can be a little blarey or shouty with some headphones. The gain selector can often transform the Lyr 2 from being slightly warm to fast and forward. 
     
    Bass: The low end is where the Lyr 2 really comes into its stride. It has plenty of impact, great extension, is not muddy, and never gets soft or blobby sounding. It has that great bass speed of a good solid state amplifier while still having the slight warmth that one expects from tubes. Rolling tubes will help change the impact of the bass or its warmth, but regardless, the Lyr 2 itself can bring plenty of bass out of headphones without being artificial.
     
    Soundstage: Soundstage has a fair amount of neutrality to it, which once again, depends on your tubes selection. With the stock tubes, the Lyr 2 has great instrument placement, good depth, and on high gain is a little wider. It has more soundstage accuracy than other similarly priced tube amps, but not as much as some solid state amps.
     
    Overall, I would say the Lyr 2 is a mix between the speed and cleanliness or the Asgard 2, and the warmth of the Valhalla 2, while having more power than either one. There is simply this sonic sense of a step up from entry level desktop amps to the Lyr 2 in terms of dynamics and physicality, and it has more dynamic punch than the Valhalla 2, at least with the latter's stock tubes. Schiit Audio products are all good performers in their respective price points, but the Lyr 2 is where Schiit starts to sound great. 
     
     
    System synergy: Because of its transparency and revealing nature, the Lyr 2 requires a mid-level DAC to sound its best. I currently use the 99 dollar Schiit Modi, and while it might be a great entry level DAC, it is beginning to show its limits with the mid-level Lyr 2 in terms of bass dynamics, soundstage, dynamics and refinement. Many people do not think DACs are as important as an amplifier, but trust me, if your DAC's audio signal isn't up to par, your amplifier isn't going to make it much better sounding. And this is doubly true if your amplifier is revealing like the Lyr 2. Be warned: the Lyr 2 is where system synergy becomes an important factor in getting your music to sound the way you want it to. I was likely going to upgrade to either the HRT Music Streamer II+ or the Music Streamer HD. When I get either one, I will update this review.
     
    Headphones I use with the Lyr 2:
     
    The headphones I use with the Lyr 2 are my Sennheiser HD650, the AKG K7XX Massdrop Edition, and vintage Sennheiser HD545 Reference.
     
    The HD545 I believe is a 300 ohm headphone with a bright and fast treble, a slightly diffuse midrange, and a light and lean bass with still good extension down low. The Lyr 2 adds tightness and extension to the bass, brings out the midrange, and adds extra air and soundstage to the treble without adding aggression. The result is a great pairing that takes the already airy and breathy sound of the HD545 and makes it a pure joy for acoustic and classical music. The HD565 and HD580 should also make a great combination with the Lyr 2 as well. 
     
    My HD650 is a 2014 model, which is a bit brighter than the older HD650s. When the tubes are fully warm, the Lyr 2 makes a great combination with the HD650, keeping it fast, bringing more tightness to the bass, and keeping the treble dynamic. The combination works well, and the HD650s sound great on low gain. High gain tends to make them slightly brash. 
     
    The K7XX is where a truly great pairing happens. The K7s with their pickiness for a great system are right at home with the Lyr 2. It brings out a level of bass impact, mid range dynamics, and treble smoothness that I have never heard before with the K7-series. On the Lyr 2, I'd say the K7XX surpasses the HD650 in dynamics and a resolving sound. The combination is fantastic and the best I have heard with AKGs thus far.
     
     
    That's it for my review. If anyone has any questions pertaining to the Lyr 2, I will try to answer them to the best of my abilities.  


    DAC Update: I recently purchased the Meridian Audio Director, and I can confirm that this makes a great pairing with the Lyr 2. The Director has that signature Meridian sound: digital while being layered, warmer and effortlessly smooth, and very hifi-friendly sounding (not cold or analytical). As synergy goes, the Meridian Director kicks the Lyr 2 up a notch, having a source component as equally good sounding as the amplifier. Alternatively, from what I heard of, the Fostex HP-A4 also makes a good DAC to use with the Lyr 2, and because it has its own amp stage, it can be used on the go.
    fuens and darkware like this.